14 Aug 2013

Road Trip East, Camping on Perhentian Island

 Rarely do we get to go for a family holiday longer than three days. But when hubby was asked to take a one week compulsory leave for Hari Raya, we decided on a road trip. :)  Well, the 6 days went by way too fast, and we're back, happy, tired and with pretty bad sun burn!

We drove along the East Coast, stopping by Cherating, Kuala Terengganu, Setiu and finally camping on Perhentian Island (the highlight of our trip.)

Our first destination, Holiday Villa Cherating. Puasa month is a really good time to visit Cherating, as almost all hotels offer a 50% discount off room rates. Thus a room that would usually cost 360RM cost us only 160RM.  The kids enjoyed the beach tremendously, until Jo got stung by a jellyfish.  Her whole left arm turned red and red bumps began swelling all over. Was pretty scary, and painful for her. Thank God, after rinsing with salt and running water, it began to subside. The rest of our stay there was relaxing and wonderful.


Penarik Inn is located on a really REALLY quiet stretch of beach. The effect of it is wonderful...peace and tranquillity. I felt like I'd gone back years and years in time. There are no motels nearby, and the only sound we heard was the crashing of waves and laughter of the host family as they celebrated Hari Raya with loved ones. 

The rooms are very simple/basic, and the beds...kinda sink in the middle. But that's ok for us. We really loved the hospitality there though. We were served a feast of ketupats and rendang for Hari Raya, all on  the house and had wonderful conversation with the lovely host and family that runs the place.

The little inns at Penarik Inn. Very basic accommodation.

 Our children really loved this tree house and spent hours in it.

The very peaceful beach, and a turtle and terrapin hatchery run by WWF.

We met the son of the host family, Kidir, and he happens to be an artist. He and friends have set up a really small, but lovely turtle information centre with art and sculptures all made up of recycled materials brought in by the ocean. I loved his turtle painting and the little art decorations all around the inn.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves at Penarik Inn. If going, bring lotsa mosquito repellent. Do not expect a perfect room. Rooms could do with improvement. But excellent hospitality and location, if peace and tranquillity is what you're seeking. By the way, they are planning on having Hari Setiu on the 6th of September. Itinerary include gasing (top spinning) and Wau competition.


This was the most exciting part of our road trip. We awoke very early and arrived in Kuala Besut jetty to meet Sh and family.The moment we arrived, motorbikes followed us, each one persuading us to get boat tickets through them. In the end we went with the one that offered the best deal. Adults RM70, and children half price.

Upon arrival on the island, Sh commented "How lovely...just us on the island campsite."  We spoke too soon, for we heard the sound of loud engine approaching, and turned around to discover a large fishing boat with an entire kampung of campers arriving. Later in the day, 2 other large boats turned up. So all in all, there must have been close to a 100 campers staying the night with us. :)

One of the fishing boats parked 

The first night was like celebrating Hari Raya on campground. Generators from the campsite and boats whirred through almost half the night. Fireworks blazed through the darkness, laughter, barbeque, music. The people were really nice though. They told us it was a yearly affair to have Hari Raya reunion on the island. How lovely indeed. Wonder if I could ever convince my uncles and aunts to do the same? Impossible I think.

Our campsite, right by the snorkeling site. It got really quiet when the group of campers left on the second day. Still we loved it As my lil one mentioned, "I miss camping mum. I miss getting up early in the morning, putting on my swimsuit and just jumping in to snorkel." Indeed, the snorkeling site at Teluk Keke is lovely! :)

During the day when the sun got too hot, the children built and ran this restaurant, which occasionally got destroyed by fellow picnickers, and which the children kept repairing. In the end to protect their restaurant, they made booby traps all around. (Don't ask me who taught them how to make traps..ahem.)

While diving, our children found sea cucumbers. They discovered that these creatures have tentacles that are really sticky and will stick to the hands!

While enjoying the corals and beautiful fish, we also found a  Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae) which we picked  up just for a while before releasing it back to where we found it.

Rock climbing, another favourite pastime while camping.

As for food, the nearest restaurant was about a 15 minute walk away. We feasted mainly on instant noodles, but twice during the stay we walked to the restaurants to have a good meal and ice cream. :)

We booked a snorkeling trip by boat. At one point we saw a turtle swimming. I dived in to watch the turtle way down on the grass bed feeding slowly, gently. Unexpected encounters like this make the trip all so worth it. The turtle and encounters with the Clown fish "Nemo" and sea anemone was the highlight for the children. Jo however, loved the parrot fish most of all.

Children watching  boats pass by.

I guess, the only downside of camping on Teluk Keke was that, all toilets were NON functioning. No flush, no water supply. Thus a spade to bury "stuff" came in really handy. As for bathing, we depended on well water. The children did become experts at drawing water from the well. Basically...as the Malay saying goes "Mandi Kerbau"....

Would we camp on Perhentian again? Oh definitely a Yes. If camping there, pack light, as you'll have to carry everything onto the boat and unload on to campsite.
Things to bring:
-Swimming board/life vest for kids
-lots of sunblock
-vinegar for standby in case of jellyfish bites
-tea tree oil or ointment for bites
-paper and spade for toilet
-cooking stove and lots of snack.
-at least four bottles of 5L water for a 3 day stay if cooking. (buying necessities on island can cost almost double!)

There was one more thing we loved about being on the island.....the dark sky like a sea of endless twinkling stars...oh so mesmerising... :) 

(For our first road trip East, with more stops and visits to random places, please click on this post HERE. )

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013

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